The Relationship Between Belonging and Employee Engagement
Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, next to physical safety, ‘belonging’ is a basic human necessity. In context of the workplace, when an employee believes in the organisation’s mission, they tend to invest in that journey as well. These employees utter statements such as: “We are putting together a new program successfully” or “We have a great relationship, and hence we get things done together quite well”. On the other hand, when employees are dissatisfied with the organisation, they tend to remove themselves from the equation. Such employees utter statements such as: “They do not pay us competitive remuneration” or “They do not get things done in the right manner.”
Employees who use ‘we’, tend to feel more organic integration with the organisation, investing more ownership, and relating more. Such employees are more likely to be engaged, satisfied, and effective in their work.
A sense of belonging, or employee connection, is a kind of feeling that makes employees acknowledge that to be a part of their organisation makes them a part of the community of people who are engaged in something that is much bigger than just one person. It gives them a sense of belonging to the organization as well as to the people in and around them. Apart from a feeling of social connection, they also find a great sense of shared culture, kinship, values, customers, and mission with this connection. This evokes a special feeling and part of a group which has each other’s back at all times, unconditionally.
What Types of Connection Drive Employee Engagement?
When employees feel a deep sense of connection with their organisation, they are more likely to spend an extra amount of energy towards their coworkers, offer more to the organisation, and be more positive in their attitude towards work, even when away from work. This extra attention to detail, quality, morale, and effort result in higher productivity and productivity. Belonging can certainly make the team much more than the sum of its parts.
This connectivity, however, does not happen overnight. It’s unrealistic to expect an employee who has just joined the organization to feel connected on day one. People pass through a couple of preliminary stages before finding that sense of belonging. Let’s take a look at some of those preliminary stages:
- An employee needs to feel a sense of fitting well into the organisation. An individual who fits into an organization well, very often finds that the other people working in the organization have a similar background or the work is the kind of work they are trained for and enjoy doing. Thus they fit well into the company.
- Once an employee fits into an organisation, they automatically move on to feel a sense of belonging towards the organisation. They begin to feel that this is a place which shares their values, where they can enjoy work, be rewarded, and feel motivated to work. Hence, together they fit and contribute towards producing positive outcomes.
- Once they feel a sense of belonging, they tend to become an integral part of the organisation. Instead of being just a part of the organisation, the organization acts as an extension of who they are.
The sense of fitting into an organisation and a sense of belonging are necessary precursors to connection. However, this does not constitute a connection. If an employee finds themselves fitting well into the organisation with a sense of belonging, their colleagues get a sense of who they are and also accept them. This intern shifts their ‘they’ thinking into, ‘we,’ and established the organic, 2-way sense of belonging.